Batman, Dracula and Spiderman are the top three most-used franchise characters from movies and video games in the world’s biggest media market over the past four decades, according to the first installment of a new series of “Creative Economy Notes” unveiled by WIPO Director General Daren Tang at the Frankfurt Book Fair.
The note entitled: “Batman forever? Do overlapping trademark and copyright frameworks affect the franchising of comic characters?” looked at the usage of comic and other characters in United States-based cinema and gaming between 1980-2019 (top 40 list in Annex 1). It explores how character owners may trademark their characters in addition to protecting them under the copyright framework (commonly used to protect creative works) and what this means in economic and policy terms. All told, these three franchise characters have together generated some USD 5.89 billion in revenue over the period, WIPO’s research shows.
“Comic and other franchise characters like Batman have entertained generations of children and adults alike and are a great example of how intellectual property systems help ensure these characters can adapt and remain popular even as technologies and platforms evolve,” said Director General Tang. “I’m really pleased to be able to launch our new ‘Creative Economy Notes’ series at the Frankfurt Book Fair, a valued WIPO partner that gathers together the world’s publishing and creative-industry sectors to celebrate the creativity that brings people together.”
Mr. Tang, who took office as WIPO Director General on October 1, 2020, presented the new series in a virtual event together with President of Frankfurter Buchmesse Juergen Boos and their colleagues. WIPO and the Frankfurt Book Fair recently signed an agreement for collaboration between the two organizations.
Juergen Boos, Director of Frankfurter Buchmesse, said: “The convergence of the media industries, and the impact of digitisation, means that the film and gaming sectors are evolving at an extraordinary rate right now. As a result, the potential revenue from associated licensing and sales is also enormous. So, it is more important than ever before to establish the correct processes to ensure that character owners can safely trademark their works. We all have a part to play in protecting intellectual property rights and I am pleased that the results of this survey will help to shine a light on how the creative economy is evolving.”
The new series of “Creative Economy Notes” seeks to generate empirical insight into the evolving face of the creative economy and provide analysis on how policy choices affect the performance in the creative industries.
At the meeting, WIPO also released preliminary results of its annual survey of the global publishing industry, expressing his hope that a greater number of partners will participate in the survey in the coming years. Among the survey’s findings for the countries that have so-far shared 2019 data on trade and educational publishing (Annex 2 ):
ANNEX 2: Global publishing industry at a glance – Preliminary release*
U.S. publishing industry revenue reached over USD 23.5 billion in 2019 The 2019 total sales and licensing revenue generated by both the trade and the educational sectors are available for 17 countries. These 17 countries generated USD 64.1 billion revenue in 2019. The United States of America (U.S.) (USD 23.5 billion) reported the largest net revenue, followed by Japan (USD 16.1 billion), the Republic of Korea (USD 6.2 billion), Germany (USD 5.6 billion) and the U.K. (USD 5.4 billion) (Table 1). Trade sector revenue accounted for 50 % or more of total revenue in 12 of the 17 countries – ranging from 55.2 % in Japan to 94.8 % in the Czech Republic – while educational sector revenue accounted for over half of total revenue in Brazil (57.9 %), Mexico (74.2 %) and Turkey (59.5 %). Online sales generated more than half of trade sector revenue in Sweden and the U.K.Seven countries provided their 2019 trade sector revenue broken down by sales channel, that is, bricks and mortar, online and other categories. Online sales generated more than half of total trade sector revenue in Sweden (50.1 %) and the U.K. (55.2 %). The U.S. (43.5 %) and Turkey (22%) also had a large proportion of their total trade sector revenue generated by online sales. In 2019, the U.K. published 202,000 titles covering the trade and educational sectorsData on the total number of titles published in 2019 covering both the trade and educational sectors are available for 32 countries. The U.K. reported a combined total of 202,000 published titles in 2019, followed by the Russian Federation (115171), France (107143) and Spain (95849) (Table 1).
Digital editions accounted for a high share of trade sector titles published in Cuba, Norway and SwedenIn total, 19 countries were able to disaggregate the number of titles published by the trade sector between print editions, digital editions and other formats. Print editions accounted for more than half of all titles published by the trade sector in most countries. Cuba (55.2 %), Sweden (51.1 %) and Norway (47.1 %) reported the largest share of digital editions. Background details on the publishing industry surveyIn 2017, in collaboration with the International Publishers Association (IPA), WIPO launched a new survey of the global publishing industry. In 2019, cooperation with the Federation of European Publishers (FEP) and Centro Regional para al Fomento del Libro en América Latina y el Caribe (CERLALC) was established and helped to reduce the burden on respondents and increase the geographical coverage of survey responses. WIPO is grateful to FEP and CERLALC for sharing their data in the implementation of the survey. WIPO has also established cooperation with the International ISBN Agency and the Nielsen Company to validate survey responses. The scope of the publishing industry survey is limited to (a) trade and educational sectors, and (b) published materials (i.e., books, monographs, etc.) issued with an ISBN, a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) or any other book identifier. * Full survey results will be available in WIPO’s forthcoming World Intellectual Property Indicators 2020 report:
- In total, 17 countries reported their total sales and licensing revenues generated by both the trade and the educational sectors. These revenues amounted to USD 64.1 billion in 2019. The United States of America (U.S.) (USD 23.5 billion) reported the largest net revenue, followed by Japan (USD 16.1 billion), the Republic of Korea (USD 6.2 billion), Germany (USD 5.6 billion) and the U.K. (USD 5.4 billion).
- Seven countries provided their 2019 trade sector revenue broken down by sales channel, that is, bricks and mortar, online and other categories. Online sales generated more than half of total trade sector revenue in Sweden (50.1 %) and the U.K. (55.2 %). The U.S. (43.5 %) also saw a large proportion of their total trade sector revenue generated by the online sales. However, the brick and mortar channel continued to generate the largest share of total trade sector revenue for most countries that reported such data for 2019. The 2021 report will chart any changes to the weight of different sales channels due to measures taken to stem the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is the global forum for intellectual property policy, services, information and cooperation. A specialized agency of the United Nations, WIPO assists its 193 member states in developing a balanced international IP legal framework to meet society’s evolving needs. It provides business services for obtaining IP rights in multiple countries and resolving disputes. It delivers capacity-building programs to help developing countries benefit from using IP. And it provides free access to unique knowledge banks of IP information.